Circus acts have made white tigers famous—these striking felines’ black stripes stand out against their white coats, and they have dazzling blue eyes. But while white tigers are beautiful to look at, they’re a sign of poor breeding practices that are bad for the animals.

White fur in tigers is the result of a rare genetic mutation. In the wild, white tigers are rare, because the odds are slim that two unrelated tiger parents would carry the mutated gene that results in a white cub. However, some people have bred closely related tigers or even purposely bred white tigers to produce white offspring. This isn’t good for the tigers; the genes that cause white fur are related to medical problems.

Good zoos that are committed to protecting animals don’t purposely breed white tigers. Instead, they work to build a diverse gene pool that produces healthy offspring for generations to come. Besides—healthy, orange tigers are beautiful too!

 

Photo by Tony Hisgett